What Are the Different Types of Computer Mice?

Imagine trying to use your computer…without a mouse.

Probably leaves you feeling pretty uncomfortable, right?

So have you ever wondered if there’s more to a mouse than clicking and dragging?

Or if there’s a mouse to suit every purpose?

This post will take you through the different types of mice available today.

And also some other cool information you might not have known.

Basic Types of Computer Mouse

There are two basic categories of mice – generic and specialized.

The generic types are used in day-to-day situations like office work whereas there are special types of mice for specific tasks.

Gaming mice is one perfect example of this.

Wireless mice

These mice don’t have any cable connecting them to the computer. They’re what you’ll find supplies with most new computers and laptops.

Wireless mice use a tiny radio frequency transmitter to communicate with a dongle plugged into a USB port.

These signals tell your computer where and when your mouse has moved.

They can be an excellent choice because you don’t have to worry about wires.

And mice in this category are very mobile, so you can take your favorite mouse to work with you, if you like.

The only thing you need to watch out for is keeping the batteries charged.

Wired mice

These are the complete opposite of a wireless mouse.

Wired mice are – as the name suggests – connected to your computer with a cable that plugs into a free USB port.

Older mice used to connect to PS/2 ports but you’ll only find them on much older computers.

They run on your computer’s power, so you’ll never need to worry about charging or changing batteries.

Although they’re now less common, they require zero setups, unlike the wireless ones.

And they also have a slightly faster response time than wireless mice – that’s why gamers tend to use wired mice instead of wireless ones.

Mechanical Mouse

The first ever generation of mouse invented was a mechanical mouse.

It had a rubber ball inside it that made contact with 2-3 sets of “rollers” that tracked your mouse’s position.

The main problem with these mice is that they picked up a lot of dirt and could easily become clogged.

Finding a mouse that uses a mechanical tracking mechanism – like a metal ball – is very, very rare.

Except maybe in a museum.

Optical and Laser Mice

Optical and laser mice are the norm now simply because the technology behind them has become very cheap to manufacture.

Instead of having a ball like the mechanical mouse, they use LED light or a laser to track mouse movements.

The only aspect of these mice that remains mechanical is the buttons, which is true of any mouse with buttons.

They’re easier to maintain and more reliable than older types of mice.  

You only need to be mindful of the surfaces you use them on – shiny or reflective surfaces can cause your optical mouse to behave erratically.

Pro Tip – laser mice don’t track well on glass surfaces.

Specialty Types of Computer Mouse

These types of mice are made to serve a particular purpose.

Trackball mouse

A trackball mouse is an advanced and inverted version of the mechanical mouse. It’s like if you flipped a mechanical mouse upside down and moved the ball with your fingers.

A trackball mouse remains stationary on your desk while you control the motion of the cursor by moving the ball with your fingers or the palm of your hand.

It feels more like using a remote control than using a traditional mouse.

And although this type of mouse uses a cord, it doesn’t get entangled because it’s usually in a stationary position.

Vertical mouse

This is an interesting development in mouse technology.

Because instead of laying the palm of your hand on top of your mouse, you control it from an upright position.

Almost like you’re shaking hands with it.

There’s very little movement required and the ergonomics here make more sense i.e. these could help reduce issues with wrist strain.

To get the best of a vertical mouse get one that suits the hand you use for your mouse.

Gaming mouse

Made primarily for gamers, this type of mouse has more than 3 typical buttons you’re used to – they usually have a minimum of 6 buttons total.

The cool thing is that these additional buttons are programmable so you can map them to the different functions or actions of a given game.

The mouse is also quite bulky when compared to other mice.

Gaming mice are also usually wired – wireless mice aren’t popular with gamers because of latency issues.

Stylus mouse

This one looks very different from a typical mouse and is a combination of a mouse and a pen.

That’s why most people refer to them as a “pen mouse”.

Stylus mice are preferred by digital artists who need the interface that a mouse offers with software, but with the dexterity offered by a pen.

A stylus mouse is basically packaging the functionality of a mouse into the form factor of a pen.

Final thoughts

So when it comes down to it there are two basics types of mouse – wired and wireless.

Wireless mice are far more popular with end users because it means having less clutter on your desk – I mean how many cans of soda do you have to knock over before you get sick of wires?

But wired mice aren’t without their problems – they can suffer from interference from other wireless devices and you need to replace the batteries every so often.

Wired mice are less flashy and more functional, and they never run out of power.

But at least you know the types of mice you can buy now, including the more specialized one.

So you’ll be making a far more informed purchasing decision.

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